Welcome to Trinity Academy’s best-kept secret.
You’ve been handpicked by the elite of the elite to become a member. But first you’ll have to prove your worth by making it through Hell Week.
Do you have what it takes?
It’s time to find out.
Samantha Evans knows she’d never get an invite to rush the Society—not after her dad went to jail for insider trading. But after years of relentless bullying at the hands of the Society’s queen bee, Jessica, she’s ready to take down Jessica and the Society one peg at a time from the inside out.
All it’ll take is a bit of computer hacking, a few fake invitations, some eager rushees…and Sam will get her revenge.
Let the games begin.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||3 MB|
|Age Range:||12 Years|
About the Author
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By Jodie Andrefski, Alethea Spiridon
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Jodie Andrefski
All rights reserved.
All things truly wicked start from innocence.
— Ernest Hemingway
My life changed forever exactly three years, two months, and seventeen days ago. Back then I still believed all people possessed redeeming qualities. Even myself. Talk about naive.
No thirteen-year-old should ever have to sit in a courtroom, scared and silent, waiting to hear if her father's going to jail. But nevertheless, there I was. My hands curled into tight fists against the lap of my skirt, nails digging small crescent moons in my sweaty palms.
I glanced over to where Jessica and her father sat in the row behind the prosecuting attorney. She must have felt my gaze, because she turned around and stared at me. I held my breath, praying I'd see sympathy for the situation, or remorse for what she'd done. Instead, the look she gave me was that of a stranger; she pursed her lips like she was biting a lemon and turned to face the front again. Her blow-off crushed me, although I guess it shouldn't have been a surprise.
Tears streaked down my face as I waited to hear the verdict. I couldn't remember ever feeling that scared in my life.
"Samantha, stop fidgeting." They were the first words my mother spoke all day. She didn't even bother looking at me as she issued her directive, her face a cold marble statue as she stared straight ahead. I forced myself to sit still and wondered what the jury would say. Feared what fate would throw at my dad, at my whole family.
I wasn't sure if Dad had actually done it or not. To tell the truth, I hadn't wanted to ask, although deep down amid memories of my parents shouting and my mother's tearful accusations, I'd known they were telling the truth. That he'd chosen greed over his family. Over me.
Once upon a time, I'd been a normal kid, one who hadn't even heard the term insider trading, let alone associated it with my father. But that was nothing compared to the "terroristic threats" charge the prosecution had also tacked on.
Maybe Dad had threatened the life of Jessica's father, but it wasn't like he would've actually followed through with it. My father had only been scared that Mr. Wainright was going to turn him in for the insider trading stuff — turned out he'd been right. But that didn't make a difference to Jessica. I was dead to her now.
And to think just five short months ago I'd been so excited to be leaving Trinity Junior Academy, ready to begin my big adventure as an official high school student. My euphoria hadn't lasted long, everything changed the day of my junior high graduation.
I was no longer the innocent, laughing girl who had friends and a real family. I could barely even remember what she'd been like. Remembering that day was like watching old home movies, the kind that you know must have happened because you see them on the screen, but you can't remember what it felt like to live it.
I'd sat waiting for the final bell to ring and glanced over at Jessica in the wooden desk next to me. She grinned and mouthed, "Ready, Sam?"
Like usual, I took my cues from her. Then again, so did most of the girls in our eighth grade class. But I didn't mind. She was more than a best friend to me; she was my soul sister. We shared secrets and planned to grow up and marry brothers and live in gorgeous houses next to each other in some exotic city far away.
One night when we were only ten, we'd gotten brave — or stupid — during a sleepover at her house and used a sewing needle to prick our fingers. We'd rubbed the tiny droplets of blood against each other's finger and sworn to remain friends forever.
We'd planned the best end of year prank ever for our last day of eighth grade. It was tradition to try to outdo the class before, and we'd nailed it. Of course, we had the perk of having some of the smartest kids in school help orchestrate the whole thing.
I covered my mouth to hide my giggle before turning my head to peek at Jeremy sitting behind me. He'd been another one of my best friends as long as I could remember. His hazel eyes twinkled as he caught my gaze, and he offered me an almost imperceptible nod.
Just as the dismissal bell began to ring, Jeremy reached inside his desk. My stomach did crazy little flip-flops, and I fought to hide my excited grin. Music blared from the built-in wall speakers used for school announcements. Mr. Mangelli looked up, aghast, as the opening beats of Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" — the unedited version — shook the hallowed walls of our too-snobby-to-rock school.
On cue, all of the girls in the room pulled identical hot pink wigs from their desks and slapped them on their heads as artificial snow and shimmery glitter burst from a contraption rigged in the back of the classroom.
Mr. Mangelli's eyes bulged, and his mouth flapped like a fish trying to suck air. He burst from his desk chair, hands shaking, pointing around the room. "What is the meaning of this? I demand you stop this foolishness this instant." It was a bit difficult to take him seriously given he had glitter hanging from his moustache and had to keep wiping Styrofoam snow from his lips.
Of course, we ignored him. Sounds of cheering and clapping carried from the adjoining classrooms. A few brave students hovered at our homeroom door as they passed, peeking in and laughing when they saw the thirty of us in the room now standing and gyrating to the boom badoom boom. Jessica, always the leader, actually stood on her desk. Mr. Mangelli turned apoplectic.
"Get down from there right now!"
She blew him a kiss. I lost it. I grabbed her hand to pull her down, laughing hysterically. Jeremy's arm snaked around my shoulders in a quick hug, and he leaned in close to whisper, "Score. We did it." I turned, and my smile widened, including him in the moment.
Jer and his friend Pete were the brains behind the whole thing. Building the machine to shoot the snow and glitter when Jeremy pressed the button had taken them several weeks in Pete's garage, but they did it, it worked just like we'd planned.
I grabbed my backpack from the floor, and the three of us raced hand in hand out of the classroom, ignoring our teacher's shouted threats about this going on our permanent academic record. Really, what would it say? We made it snow in class? I wasn't worried; the school administration pretty much expected something like it on the last day of classes each year.
My heart raced in exhilaration as we ran together down the wide hallway toward the double doors that led to freedom. Summer vacation with the best friends in the world waited just ten feet away. Life was good.
I was still glowing twenty minutes later when I got home. Like usual, Jessica's mom had given me a ride, and Jess promised to come over early the next day to help decorate for my graduation party. I pushed open the front door and walked in.
"Mom, I'm home!" I tossed my bag on the stone landing and looked around when I didn't hear her usual cheery, "Hey, honey," welcoming me.
"Mom?" I called again, a little louder this time. It didn't seem like anyone was around. Granted, Dad didn't usually get home until after seven. He worked long hours with his job as a stockbroker on Wall Street. But I guess I kind of expected more of an excited scene walking in. My parent's usual go-overboard style should have dictated balloons and champagne, or something.
I trudged up the stairs to my room, still humming "Super Bass." I reached back to untwist my braid and shook my head when my long dark hair was finally freed. Just as I reached the landing at the top of the stairs, a muted voice carried from the end of the hall, from my parents' room.
"I cannot believe you would do this! What were you thinking?"
Mom had to be on the phone with one of her friends, though I'd never heard her sound like that, so bitter and furious. Curious, I crept closer, taking care to tiptoe as quietly as I could. Whatever she was talking about, it was probably a safe bet I wasn't meant to hear the conversation; maybe I'd get some juicy gossip I could share with my friends later. I giggled.
"Goddammit, Claire! It just happened. I ... I don't know what you want me to fucking say."
My hand covered my mouth. That was my father's voice, but Dad never cursed at Mom; he always said that kind of language showed poor breeding and lack of intellect. And besides, my parents rarely argued, and even when they did, it wasn't like this, so heated. It was normally about where to go on vacation, or my Dad forgetting to pick up milk on his way home.
I crept closer to their closed door, determined to find out what had gotten them both so worked up. I couldn't even imagine my dad doing anything to make my mom that mad. He was my hero. He worked hard, and yet he still always made time to spend time with me: going to the skating rink or taking me to my horseback riding lessons. I think it bothered my mom that he and I had always had a special bond, one that she and I didn't share.
A loud crash sounded against the opposite side of the door, and I jerked my head back in shock and mounting fear; my stomach twisted and tears sprang to my eyes. I turned and slipped into my room across the hall and locked the bedroom door behind me with a firm click.
My hands shook as I crossed my large, pale lavender room and sat on the bed that was positioned between two chiffon-covered windows. A shadow fell across my previously bright and cheery room as storm clouds covered the sun outside my window. Somewhere deep inside, I was afraid of what was to come.
Little did I know at the time just how right I was to be scared.
I shook my head like that would get rid of the memories. I didn't need to relive one of the worst days of my life, not now, not when a jury of twelve strangers deliberated my father's fate. The knots in my stomach tightened until I was sure the pain would cause me to pass out. I looked to my mom for something — an encouraging smile, a squeeze of her hand. I got neither.
As soon as the jury foreman stood up, steely eyes and disapproving glare sent in my father's direction, I knew it was all over. Life as I'd known it up until that moment was gone. Poof. Like the flame on a birthday candle extinguished forever. Only I didn't get a wish this time.
My mother said nothing as the uniformed guard led my dad out of the courtroom in his orange jumpsuit, hands shackled together, making a clanging noise with each of his shuffling footsteps. Just as he was about to walk through the door that would lead him to the next ten years of his life, away from me, he looked up. His face looked tired, like he'd given up. His cheeks were more sunken in than they used to be, and his shoulders slumped.
I waited for him to say something, to call out that he loved me and it was all a big mistake. I jumped up from my seat, leaned forward against the bench in front of me, tears rolling unabated down my face. But after a heartbeat that lasted forever, he dropped his gaze and turned and walked through the door.
"Samantha, it's time to go." My mother's voice was cool, detached. I looked up at her incredulously. Her expression hardened when she saw I was crying. "Wipe your face. We'll go out the side entrance so we don't have to deal with the press. I'm late for a meeting." No hugs, no comforting words. I did as I was told and silently shadowed her out of the courtroom.
Watching my mother's straight back as she marched two feet ahead in her charcoal suit, something in me changed. The carefree girl I'd been on my last day of junior high was gone, life as I'd known it was over. Even at thirteen, I was smart enough to realize everything would change.
Turned out, I was right.CHAPTER 2
If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
— William Shakespeare
I pushed through the heavy oak doors leading into Trinity Academy, ignoring the groups of students milling around the wide steps of the ornate brick building. Not like it mattered. They were all busy talking, laughing, and fist-bumping each other, mostly jocks and their adoring fans, none of whom I had the time or interest to speak with.
"Out of my way."
Bren Fessler — bedazzled toady to my ex-best friend Jessica — shoved past, leaving me gagging from lingering fumes of eau de bitch. I rolled my eyes, hacked through the last of the stench, and headed toward my locker.
Trinity was founded like a hundred years ago, and if buildings really do have a personality, this one had the snooty air of old money. I mean, it was a beautiful campus; it just sucked that I couldn't stand the majority of the kids who went there anymore. But since Trinity had a stellar academic program that looked great on college applications, I'd remained, even after everything that happened. Besides, my creative writing teacher, Ms. Kemper, had pretty much assured me a shining recommendation to Columbia, her alma mater. I think she felt sorry for me. So I stayed. I wasn't about to blow my chance at getting into my dream school even if everything around me sucked.
As I neared my locker, five or six members of the golden crew sashayed in a little blond bubble across from me, confident toothy smiles all over their faces. Since it was the start of Rush week, they were probably all certain they'd find a typed note covertly slipped through one of the vents in their locker, an invitation to rush our high school's hallowed cloak-and-dagger Musterian Society.
Even the name sounded decayed, like a musty blanket you'd find rotting in your grandmother's attic. I'd looked it up once. Musterian. Turns out it's Greek for "a mystery confided only to the initiated and not to ordinary mortals."
There would obviously be no note in my locker. I was way too ordinary, and mortal was putting it mildly. My hair wasn't blond and shiny enough. I didn't prance around in a cutesy little uniform with TA emblazoned across my not-quite-big-enough boobs.
The cheerleaders seemed to miss what just about everyone else recognized. The irony in the fact that our school's initials also stood for a completely different phrase. Then again, they'd probably be just as proud to wear the label, Tits and Ass. Yet these Einsteins were usually the ones chosen to pledge, at least to meet the female initiates quota.
Just about every kid at school dreamed of being invited to rush. Invitation to the Society wasn't only a guaranteed boost to your social standing, although that was a given. No, being in the Society offered even more tangible, life-changing perks. It pretty much guaranteed acceptance to the college of your choice — past members served on the admissions boards of some of the best schools in the country. Dream jobs tended to follow. The Society members helped their own.
We weren't supposed to know all that, but it didn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out when you saw school acceptance letters roll in. The Society was a who's who of the in crowd, guaranteeing a life we all fantasize about.
They didn't ask people like me to join. I wasn't coolenough, at least not anymore.
Steps away from my locker, the golden crew parted like the Red Sea. Whispers and giggles engulfed me — dark as smoke, and just as acrid.
"Oh my God, it's perfect."
"... her expression."
I tried to ignore them, just another day in Trinity paradise.
Until I saw it.
I stopped short and sucked in a breath. She'd gone too far this time. Heat burned my cheeks as I stared straight ahead.
Several black stripes made to resemble bars, drawn with what looked like thick Magic Marker, ran vertically from the top of my locker to the very bottom. A crude stick figure of a prisoner filled the center, with my yearbook photo pasted on as the face. In what I'm sure they felt was a clever play on words on our school's Musterian Society, they'd scribbled the words "Convict Society" above my photo.
I fought to hide my burning anger and embarrassment. Jessica. She'd taunted me on an almost obsessive basis since the trial three years ago. Jessica needed to prove she was done with me, that way none of the other kids would think she'd fallen from her Queen Bee pedestal and deigned to socialize with a convict's daughter.
Excerpted from The Society by Jodie Andrefski, Alethea Spiridon. Copyright © 2016 Jodie Andrefski. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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